Orwell Diaries 1938-1942


The authorities in Canada have now chained up a number of German prisoners equal to the number of British prisoners chained up in Germany. What the devil are we coming to? [1]

[1] The Germans chained some 2,500 Allied prisoners (mainly Canadian) taken at Dieppe because they claimed that British Commandos had chained their German prisoners. The British War Office denied this. Canada then manacled 1.376 German prisoners. On 15 October, the Swiss Red Cross offered to mediate. See Orwell’s (unpublished) letter to the Times, 12 October 1942, in which he argues that by such retaliation we ‘descend…to the level of our enemies’ (CW, XIV, pp. 97-8). On 18 October, Hitler ordered German troops to shoot all captured Allied Commandos ‘to the last man.’